The series of storms Maine has been receiving continue
to present a variety of challenges. Following are a number
of important helpful tips to consider regarding the dangers
of roof collapses, power outages and traveling.
• As the snow on most roofs has frozen, removing any new
snow and its additional weight will be very important.
• If not cleared off, snow piled high on roofs can act
as a sponge, absorbing any rain, which we might receive,
adding additional stress to structures.
• Relatively flat roofs are particularly vulnerable.
• In many other cases, roof ice dams have formed causing
water build-up, leading to interior damage.
• Be on the alert for large accumulating snow build-up
• If roof snow can be removed or ice dams broken up safely
from the ground with the use of a snow rake (available
at most hardware stores), do so.
• Avoid working from ladders, as ladder rungs tend to
ice up, snow and ice collect on boot soles, and metal
ladders and snow rakes conduct electricity if they come
into contact with a power line.
• Protective headgear and eye protection is recommended.
• Flat roofs can be shoveled clear, but only if it is
determined that the roof is safe to stand upon. Exercise
care when on the roof to avoid potentially dangerous falls.
• Flat roof drainage systems should be kept clear to minimize
the risk of excess roof ponding in the event of subsequent
heavy rainfall or melting.
• Large icicles can form on roof overhangs, but do not
necessarily mean ice damming is occurring. Icicles overhanging
walkways can be dangerous and should be carefully removed.
• All of the above actions should only be performed by
able-bodied adults. The snow is heavy, and roofs and other
surfaces may be slippery.
LOSS OF POWER
• Wet snow can transition to sleet and freezing rain,
leading to possible ice buildup on trees and power lines.
This has the potential to cause power outages. The weight
of a one-half inch build-up can be enough to snap tree
limbs, causing them to fall and bring down power lines
disrupting electrical service.
• The use of candles is strongly discouraged.
• Ensure you have a well-stocked Emergency Supply Kit
in case you lose power for an extended period. It should
include a flashlight, portable radio, extra batteries,
non-perishable food, bottled water, first aid kit, prescription
• If utilizing an emergency generator, read, understand
and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Always operate
emergency generators outdoors and away from any open window.
Make sure your generator is properly installed and grounded
as you may be liable for damage or injury to other people
and property that may result from improperly installed
or operated equipment.
• Ensure that your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors
are working correctly and have fresh batteries. • Check
your outside fuel and dryer exhaust vents, making sure
that they are not obstructed by snow or ice. Never use
cooking equipment intended for outside use indoors as
a heat source or cooking device. Never use your oven for
• Space heaters need space, so use them in a 3-foot circle
of safety, free of anything that catch fire. Space heaters
are not designed to replace your central heating system,
they are only designed to provide a little extra heat
on a temporary basis. So be sure to turn them off when
you leave room or go to bed at night.
• If you lose your heat, seal off unused rooms by stuffing
towels in the cracks under the doors. At night, cover
windows with extra blankets or sheets.
• Let water drip a trickle to prevent pipes from freezing
and open cupboards under sinks to let heat circulate around
• If pipes freeze, remove insulation, completely open
all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting
where they are most exposed to the cold.
• Be extra cautious if you go outside to inspect for damage
after a storm. Downed or hanging electrical wires can
be hidden by snowdrifts, trees or debris, and could be
live. Never attempt to touch or move downed lines. Treat
a downed wire as a live wire.
• The public is urged to stay off the roads. Obviously,
road conditions will be hazardous to drivers. Additionally,
the lower the traffic volume, the easier it will be for
cleanup crews to do their jobs and for emergency vehicles
to reach people in distress.
• The high snow banks and narrow streets present many
dangers, such as cross-traffic pulling out in front of
you unexpectedly, and children waiting at school bus stops
or playing on snow banks.
• For those who have to drive, we urge them to drive slowly
and, because stopping times will be compromised, to leave
a great deal of space between themselves and the vehicle
in front of them (at least 4 vehicle lengths).
• Likewise, the Houlton Police Department recommends that
all truckers and drivers of tractor-trailer units to err
on the side of caution and pull off state highways in
severe inclement weather. Commercial carriers are urged
to plan ahead to make appropriate scheduling changes to
keep their own drivers and other motorists safe. In inclement
weather certain highway exits and grade inclines are difficult
for trucks to navigate safely.
• Drivers should have a cellular phone with them, and
if they get into distress, they should call 911 immediately.
• Drivers should also have a blanket, warm clothing and
flashlight with them in the case that they do get stranded
and have to wait for emergency responders.
• Drivers who get stranded should stay with their motor
vehicles if it is safe to do so (i.e., if the vehicle
off to the side of the road in a safe place). Motorists
who get stuck in snow banks should be aware of the danger
of carbon monoxide poisoning if the snow is blocking their
tailpipe, and take appropriate action by shutting the
engine and opening a window.
• All motorists are reminded to clear snow and ice from
their car windows, roofs and license plates. Failure to
do so can cause a public safety hazard as snow and ice
blows off and strikes other vehicles or hampers drivers’
visibility. Drivers who fail to properly clean their cars
of snow or ice can be cited for transporting an unsecured
load, or for a license plate violation if snow obscures
the license plate. For the same reasons, truckers are
reminded to clear snow and ice from their roofs or trailer
• Motorists are warned to be extremely vigilant for pedestrians
walking on streets made narrow by snow banks, and also
to take great care and to go slowly when approaching intersections
with limited visibility caused by snow banks.
• If possible help shovel out fire hydrants and storm
drains on your street
• Questions or concerns should be directed to 532-2287